WICHITA, Kan. – Western Illinois hit 14 three-pointers and got 29 points from Taylor Higginbotham to defeat Wichita State, 78-65, Friday afternoon in Charles Koch Arena in front of 8,069 fans.
Wichita State (2-7) dropped to 14-9 all-time vs. Western Illinois, snapping a six-game winning streak vs. the Leathernecks. Western Illinois (7-2) came in averaging nearly 17 made three-pointers a game and finished 14-of-32 (44 percent) – nine of which came after halftime.
Rangie Bessard finished with a team-high 20 points to go with seven rebounds, but finished just 8-of-21 from the field. It is her third 20-point scoring effort of the season. Bessard also became the 20th Shocker to reach 1,000 career points. She now sits behind Keomi Johnson (1,037) for 19th place on the all-time charts.
Sabrina Lozada-Cabbage just missed a double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds. It’s her second straight game with 15 or more points after a career-high 16 vs. Missouri State.
Wichita State shot 37 percent from the floor and outrebounded Western Illinois, 45-40. The Leathernecks shot 41 percent on 18 assists. WIU came into the game averaging 21.1 assists, which ranked eighth in the NCAA.
Higginbotham finished with a double-double of 29 points and 10 rebounds to lead all players. She was 10-of-14 from the field, including 6-of-9 from downtown. Morgan Blumer added 17 points and seven rebounds and Emily Clemens logged 12 points and seven assists.
Lozada-Cabbage and Bessard combined to score 11 of the first 15 points to open the game in getting Wichita State an early 15-8 lead to force a Western Illinois timeout. Bessard’s free throw at the 6:23 mark was her 1,000th career point.
The Shockers then missed six of their next seven shots to let Western Illinois pull within one, 17-16, at the end of the first quarter. Higginbotham scored 10 of the Leathernecks’ 16 points.
Wichita State shot 47 percent in the first 10 minutes and held the Leathernecks to just 6-of-19 from the floor.
Wichita State’s scoring drought carried over to the start of the second quarter until Jeliah Preston knocked down a trey at the 7:41 mark to make it 20-17. The Leathernecks had several opportunities to take the lead but had trouble making layups.
A three-pointer from Morgan Blumer with 5:56 gave Western Illinois its first lead after shooting less than 25 percent over the first 15 minutes.
Back-to-back jumpers from Bessard capped an 8-0 run to put the Shockers back in front 28-22 with 2:30 remaining until halftime. Just as quickly as WSU hit the Leathernecks with an 8-0 run, WIU hit right back with its own 7-0 spurt to lead 29-28.
Bessard and Taylor Hanneman traded scores right before halftime to give Western Illinois a 32-30 lead. Bessard led all players with 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting, while Higginbotham had 12 for WIU.
The two teams were nearly identical from the field with Wichita State hitting 12-of-31 and Western Illinois at 11-of-32, but seven of WIU’s were from beyond the arc.
The Leathernecks outscored the Shockers 11-4 over the first four-plus minutes to take their largest lead, 43-34.
Western Illinois got its lead to 10 for a moment before consecutive baskets cut it down to five.
Heading into the final 10 minutes the Shockers faced a 52-45 deficit. Higginbotham was a force in the third quarter scoring nine points to help the Leathernecks build on their lead.
Wichita State found itself in a deeper hole, trailing by 14 with just 6:04 left in the game after the Leathernecks hit five of their first eight from the field.
An Angiee Tompkins layup followed by two straight three-pointers from Preston cut the WIU lead to six, 66-60, but the Leathernecks responded with an 8-0 run in less than a minute go back up by double-digits.
Higginbotham’s six three-pointer of the game put the game out of reach with 1:45 remaining and WIU leading 77-62.
Wichita State travels to Springfield, Mo., to face Missouri State for the second time in just over a week. The Shockers and Bears will tip at 7 p.m. on ESPN3.